You Can Finally Pick A Restaurant Based On Noise Level Thanks To This New App

"As a child of a parent with disability, finding ear-friendly places was always a necessity."

We've all had that frustrating moment when we're dining out with friends and find ourselves shouting over the noise just to be heard. It would be so much easier if we could just determine how loud a place is before getting a reservation there. 

If you've been looking for a way to do this, you're in luck. Seattle-based organization Lend An Ear created a free new app called iHEARu that can help you find quieter (or louder) locations with just a click of a button. Using the mobile crowd-sourced tool, users can discover restaurants with their preferred noise level in real-time, or plan ahead and see how the noise levels vary by time. 

"[Restaurant noise is] such a well-known problem that newspapers, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, established a bell system," Kelly Tremblay, PhD, Speech & Hearing Sciences  professor at the University of Washington and founder of Lend An Ear, told A Plus. "But now we have apps and crowdsourcing capabilities."

Diners who choose to rate the sound level of a restaurant can do so by measuring the actual decibel level via the microphone on their mobile device or by simply writing a review. The app has an ear symbol that indicates the level of noise an establishment may have; four ear symbols or less indicate "ear-friendly" or quieter places.

"As a child of a parent with disability, finding ear-friendly places was always a necessity," Tremblay told A Plus. "My father had multiple sclerosis; not only did he require a wheel chair ramp, he also couldn't hear very well. As a professor, neuroscientist, and clinician I know how important sound is to our brain and social health.  If a place is too loud, it can damage your hearing and it will keep you away from socializing with others." She added, "I kept saying to myself, if this is such a common problem why hasn't anyone done something about it? My father died and I decided to make this a family passion project. The app is self-funded and free to all to use."Tremblay added, "The mission is to give consumers the option to locate places where people can 'hear and be heard'."  

According to a recent survey by Zagat 2015, noise levels were rated to be the more bothersome than the prices on the menu. Plus, "social connectedness with others lowers our risk of loneliness, depression and cognitive decline."

As tech permeates our daily lives, even in areas concerning health and wellness, we're seeing more networking technologies pop-up in social spaces like dining. Last month, we reported about another foodie app called SeatCheck which helps diners find and share open seats in restaurants. We hope to see more apps like these on the horizon. 

Cover image via Yong Chuan on Unsplash

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